We’re remaking War and Peace–not the movie, but the book. Set right now. The war is the one with ISIS. The peace is that which comes with making correct and advantageous purchases of high-end electronics. Not a lot of philosophy this time around. More in the vein of so-called g-chat realism, i.e. real as fuck. This will be crowd-sourced. Contribute text through our shared docs. Contribute to the production of the book (and, God willing, the eventual movie) through our Kickstarter. The peace will be amped up. The war will be discussed. This is an important book that deserves to be adapted for and put into the hands of a new generation. Help us make a new War and Peace for everyone.
There was a famous day at the beach. They decided to go to Venice Beach because, when they woke up, they woke up drenched in sweat. “It’s so hot,” she said. “I know,” he said. They got dressed, prepared their swimming accoutrements, packed some folding chairs, and drove out. When they arrived, it was hotter, somehow, than it had been in the city. Metal seemed to be melting. The sea gulls looked tired and sad. They ate two slices of pizza from a place on the boardwalk, then walked around to check things out. They passed the dudes in the muscle-making enclosure. She decided it was time to swim. “Let’s bath here,” she said, using an idiom from her native language. They set down their chairs and got in the water. She marveled at the waves and the clarity of the ocean. They both dove under the breakers and went out as far as they could. The strap of her swimsuit fell off her shoulder at one point, and he thought about telling her, but he just looked away instead. Then looked right back at her.
Calla and Can, an alignment of strong rhythms and subductive bass. This live version of Mother Sky, which Calla also covered on record for a split EP with the Walkmen, is quiet but urgent–a hissed whisper. It’s too bad that Calla isn’t around anymore, because there weren’t many bands like them, and they had a sui generis sound, abrasive/seductive, and somehow both stark and lush.
Mr. Dream are gone, but, hell, what a tidy body of work they left behind. The band released Ultimate in Luxury, the post-break-up LP, this past summer, and songs from the record have been tumbling around my brain since then: the flex zone torque of “Making Muscles,” the sleazy lurch of “Loud Tools,” and the shiny pulse of “Fringy Slider.” This one, though, “Cheap Heat,” is my favorite Mr. Dream song. It’s so compressed, so fast, and so willful–I love the way Adam Moerder sings the chorus, “Everybody cheap heat,” as a powerful exhortation. The label that grew alongside the band, GODMODE, has been releasing some pretty incredible music, and all three Mr. Dream members, Moerder, Nick Sylvester, and Matt Morello are still making music in various ways (Fitness for Moerder, Montreal Sex Machine for Sylvester and Moerder, and Morello plays in almost every band on the label).
The Flag is Ted McGrath, former member of These Are Powers (!!), and you can hear his past in “Bad Blood,” especially in the percussion, which echoes that early-Liars lineage of his former band. “Bad Blood” is one of several standout tracks on GODMODE’s Common Interests Were Not Enough to Keep Us Together compilation, and it aligns pretty sweetly with the label’s aesthetic, especially the abrasive/mesmerizing combo heard in, say, Yvette’s music. I don’t know, “Bad Blood” is pretty fantastic, like a super-catchy pop song clothed in Black Dice sound effects, but better than that description sounds.
Posit: Your ears need a break from the predictability of ‘human’ music. Dilemma: How can you abstain from human music when most, if not all, common music is created, at least nominally, by humans? Resolution: You listen to the fine works of Keith Fullerton Whitman, a man who tries to step outside the bounds of anthropocentric tunes and make music that is, well, like Automatic Ping–texture and tone and difference. This is more superlative soundcraft, pleasing to behold.
Amelia Fletcher could sing the vilest curse and have it sound beautiful–a paragraph-length profanity full of gross blasphemations and scatological fantasies and it would still hit your ears like a kiss. Marine Research only existed for a short time, but long enough to produce an excellent LP, Sounds from the Gulf Stream, whose first track, “Parallel Horizontal,” might be its best. Great album–and one that I think is semi-forgotten, at least for anyone who didn’t live and breathe this brand of British pop.
This song is rough, as in difficult to listen to. Why would you make something like this mishmash of TV-commercial-jingle sing-song and intermittent bass pulses AND couple it with pseudo-condescending lyrics? Also incredibly hard to understand is why some of the channels on Sirius radio insist on playing this song every single goddamn day. I swear I’ve heard this or “Coffee” at least once a week, and usually more, since the end of spring. This is the most insipid kind of genre-blending music, where it seems like it was cooked up intentionally by a marketing department somewhere instead of by actual thinking musicians, i.e., the result sounds like someone directing an algorithm to combine sounds that align with homogenized characteristics like ‘hip,’ ‘indie,’ ‘contemplative,’ and ‘modern.’ Just the most egregious sort of generic nothingness, all gestural and cosmetic and gross. This song creeps me out.
Mark McGuire’s music is exploratory and adventurous. It’s got that same vibe of for-its-own-sake pursuit that’s associated with, say, the extreme climbs of long-dead alpinists, or hikers who hit the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail in consecutive years. This music seems less like a statement or a monument, and more like something done in cooperation with nature—a complement to something that already exists. This new EP is all interesting, but the two longer songs, “Noctilucence” and “Astral Protection,” really enchant.
“What are your parents like, you know, really like?” the woman asked, mocking me.
I would barely have known how to answer that question a week prior, much less after everything that had happened––it occurred to me that I had maybe only experienced my parents from a single angle, from one bounded perspective: it was as if I had lived in a village at the foot of a mountain, one that dominated the landscape, and had never moved beyond the border of that village and seen the other faces of the mountain, its outcroppings, lines, and wrinkles––I had been content to know the view I was given, had learned it as something always-present, until it became so familiar that it receded into the background; or better yet, I thought, remembering the story of a Mexican farmer in a picture book, it was if I had grown up in the simmering foothills of a dormant volcano, one that hadn’t erupted within anyone’s memory, and I went about my business, the important tasks of living, ignorant of the fact that what was secret, occluded from me, in the end was vital, paramount, and obliterated all that I thought I knew. Everything that I considered sure and immovable was secondary and marginal––the real life of this thing, of the volcano, of my parents, thrived apart, and I suspected that my own knowledge was spurious and shabby, gathered in an inattentive way, as an afterthought, in idle observation.
You never know what you’re going to get when you walk through the door at the end of the day: maybe your city’s on fire and you need to grab your dad and your belongings and your kid and high-tail it out of there before everything turns to ash and even your backyard garden is desecrated and salted. Bad news: your wife’s now a ghost also. Get in a boat and sail forever, stopping occasionally to make other people sad. Always leaving from everywhere, a one-foot-out-the-door kinda dude, you make your egress in the most uncouth ways–as if to inflict the same pain you felt at leaving your home upon everyone who hosts you.